LIVONIA (AP) — A Detroit-area bank that suspected fraud and refused to cash $99,000 in checks from a black Air Force veteran said Thursday that it mishandled the incident and should not have called police.
Sauntore Thomas attempted to deposit checks from the settlement of a discrimination lawsuit against a former employer. He said he felt humiliated Tuesday when staff at a TCF Bank in Livonia became suspicious and summoned police.
“They did not want to assist me because I was African American,” Thomas, 44, told The Associated Press. “They didn’t want to assist me because they assumed that I had a fraudulent check, which was far from the truth.
“This was no mistake,” Thomas said. “This was not just, ‘Well, we made an error. I’m sorry.’ I didn’t get an ‘I’m sorry.’ I didn’t get no cup of coffee, and I didn’t get no doughnuts. The only thing I got from them was a hard time.”
TCF spokesman Tom Wennerberg said the checks didn’t appear to be legitimate when bank staff scanned them, and that Thomas’ account had only a 52-cent balance and no recent activity.
Wennerberg denied racial bias but said the bank in hindsight should have accepted the checks and told Thomas there might be an “extended hold” until they could be validated.
Instead, four officers arrived after bank officials called police, though no action was taken against Thomas.
Thomas’ lawyer, Deborah Gordon, provided documents to show that her client had been involved in a lawsuit. But she said it didn’t allay TCF’s concerns.
“We apologize for the experience Mr. Thomas had at our banker center. Local police should not have been involved,” TCF said in a written statement Thursday, hours after the Detroit Free Press first reported the dispute.
“We strongly condemn racism and discrimination of any kind,” the bank said. “We take extra precautions involving large deposits and requests for cash, and in this case, we were unable to validate the checks presented by Mr. Thomas and regret we could not meet his needs.”
Thomas said he controlled his emotions during the bank visit.
“I didn’t start cussing and hollering. I didn’t say anything. I was very composed, even though it was a very stressful situation to be in, especially in today’s racial times,” Thomas said. “With being African American, sometimes you don’t have to do nothing to be in trouble. And that’s what I felt like.”
He took the checks to a Chase Bank, where they cleared in a new account.
Gordon, a prominent Detroit-area labor law attorney, said she filed a lawsuit against TCF, alleging racial discrimination.
“Those checks couldn’t have been more solid,” she said. “I mean, it’s a ridiculous joke that some nationwide company is going to be handing out fraudulent checks to me, that I’m going them pass on to my client. So obviously, they didn’t believe my client. It’s obvious.”
LANSING (AP) — A group launched a ballot drive Thursday to target lobbying in Michigan’s Capitol by banning free food and drink for state elected officials, requiring former lawmakers to wait two years to become lobbyists and overhauling a system that tracks lobbying.
The Coalition to Close Lansing Loopholes filed language for the proposed constitutional amendment with the state elections board. The effort is being spearheaded by Progress Michigan, a liberal advocacy organization.
The ballot committee, which plans to start circulating petitions after the wording is approved and likely needs millions of dollars to do so, would have until early July to submit 425,000 valid voter signatures.
“The reality is that lobbyists are running things in Lansing and they have been for too long. For years, there’s been talk about the need for more transparency and accountability in Lansing, but nothing has been done,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Lansing-based Progress Michigan. “Michiganders want and deserve an open and accountable government, and yet we still rank dead last in transparency and accountability.”
The measure would prohibit lobbyists and their clients from giving anything of value to public officials or their immediate family, with exceptions for legal campaign contributions and plaques valued at no more than $250 given to honor their public service. Public officials would be defined as statewide elected officials, department directors, political appointees in the executive branch and lawmakers’ top aides.
Currently, lobbyists must report travel and lodging paid for or reimbursed to a public official in excess of $825, food and beverages above $63 a month or $400 over a six- or seven-month period, and any “gift” — including tickets to events — above $63 in any one month.
Unlike most states, Michigan has no mandatory “cooling off” period before a government official may register as a lobbyist, except when a legislator resigns from office.
The initiative also would prohibit agreements where lobbyists’ pay depends on the success or failure of their lobbying, expand who has to register as a lobbyist, require lobbyists and public officials to file monthly detailed reporting of lobbying activities and communications, and mandate additional disclosure about who funds political ads.
Now, lobbyists must report certain spending on food, drinks, lodging and other transactions twice a year — saying which officials were lobbied and when — but they do not have to specify what was discussed. Under the proposal, lobbyists and public would maintain a lobbying log indicating details such as the subject matter and whether the lobbying occurred in a meeting, at a meal or by phone or email.
Scott noted that lobbyists reported spending $5,682 on food and drink in the first seven months of 2019 for a Republican legislator who chairs a key House committee, according to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, a watchdog group.
EAST LANSING (AP) — Lindsey Pulliam and Veronica Burton scored 22 points apiece, and No. 22 Northwestern beat Michigan State 76-48 on Thursday night for its fifth straight victory.
Northwestern (17-2, 7-1 Big Ten), ranked in the AP Top 25 poll for the first time since 2016, remained undefeated at home this season at 8-0. The Wildcats forced 24 turnovers, converting those into 35 points, and scored 20 more points than Michigan State in the paint.
Abbie Wolf had 14 points and nine rebounds for Northwestern.
Moira Joiner scored 17 points, with five 3-pointers, for Michigan State (11-8, 4-4), which shot just 35%.
By MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Joey Brunk made an immediate impact from the moment he arrived on Indiana’s campus.
Jerome Hunter needed to be more patient.
The graduate transfer from Butler and the redshirt freshman teamed up for the Hoosiers’ final flurry on Thursday night. Brunk scored 14 points including a layup with a minute left, Hunter grabbed a rebound with 0.2 seconds left and made two free throws to seal Indiana’s 67-63 win over No. 11 Michigan State.
“He had 14 and six (rebounds) tonight and he earned them all,” coach Archie Miller said when asked about Brunk.
Without Brunk — or Hunter — the Hoosiers may not have salvaged this one.
The Hoosiers (15-4, 5-3 Big Ten) have won two straight, four of their last five and now trail conference co-leaders Michigan State and Illinois by just a game.
Cassius Winston, the league’s preseason player of the year, could have forced overtime when he drove through the lane in the waning seconds. But when Hoosiers forward Trayce Jackson-Davis slid toward Winston, he flipped the ball to Xavier Tillman for a layup that rolled off the rim and into the hands of Hunter.
Winston scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half as the Spartans (14-5, 6-2) lost their third straight in the series.
“We just didn’t play good enough to win on the road,” coach Tom Izzo said. “I think he tried to get it up on the rim and I thought he had a wide open layup. He just missed it.”
The Hoosiers started fast and still led 37-30 at the half.
But Michigan State made its first six 3s of the second half and finally took the lead, 51-48, on Rocket Watts’ 3 with 11:06 remaining.
It stayed a one-possession game the rest of the way, but the momentum finally swung when Aljami Durham ‘s 3 with 1:52 to go broke a 60-60 tie. Brunk’s layup made it 65-62 and Hunter sealed Indiana’s biggest win of the season with his only points of the game.
By NOAH TRISTER
AP Sports Writer
ANN ARBOR — Lamar Stevens started scoring right away. Then Curtis Jones arrived in the second half and helped Penn State hold on for an impressive road win.
Now coach Patrick Chambers wishes his team could play again soon.
“I’m almost disappointed that we have a week off here,” Chambers said.
Stevens scored 14 of his 19 points in the first half, and Penn State was in control for most of the game in a 72-63 victory over Michigan on Wednesday night.
Curtis Jones scored 18 points — all in the second half — and Myreon Jones added 16 for the Nittany Lions, who handed Michigan its third straight loss.
Zavier Simpson led Michigan with 18 points, but the Wolverines (11-7, 2-5 Big Ten) made just three of their first 21 shots from the field in the second half.
“They played good defense,” Michigan’s Eli Brooks said. “We just didn’t knock down shots.”
This is the first time the Nittany Lions have won consecutive games over the Wolverines since 2008 and 2009. Penn State also snapped a seven-game losing streak at Crisler Center.
By BRIAN HALL
ST. PAUL, Minn. — With their chances of a playoff appearance slipping by the day, the Minnesota Wild returned home for a stretch of games before the All-Star break knowing there was little room for error.
They have taken advantage of the homestand and head into the break believing they are ready to make a push to the postseason.
Eric Staal and Mats Zuccarello each had a goal and assist, and Devan Dubnyk stopped 25 shots as the Wild beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-2 on Wednesday night.
Jordan Greenway and Jason Zucker also scored for Minnesota, which enters the All-Star break with three wins in four games.
Detroit’s Filip Zadina was credited with two goals, his first NHL multi-goal game, but both came on deflections off a Wild player.
Jimmy Howard had 29 saves for the Red Wings, who will head into their break having lost six in a row overall and eight straight on the road.
“I didn’t have that concern because I can’t imagine how, I can’t even fathom how that could be possible with where we’re at and the number of games that we’ve won,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said of his team possibly looking ahead.
By MATT SCHOCH
DETROIT — One Detroit point guard has been carrying the scoring load. Another joined him Wednesday night, with his back now healthy enough to pitch in.
Derrick Rose scored 22 points and Reggie Jackson also had 22 in his return to lineup as the Pistons beat Sacramento 127-106 to hand the Kings their sixth straight loss.
Jackson had missed 42 games since leaving the second game of the season with a back injury. He said after this one the stress reaction in his lower back had affected his sleeping but credited the training staff with getting him back on the court.
“Teammates being lenient with me and just being put in a good position. I think all that combined and a little bit of luck, of course,” Jackson said. “All that combined allowed myself to just flow pretty easily.”
Jackson made a floater on his first attempt and played well in 19 minutes off the bench, shooting 8 of 14 and handling out four assists.
“He gives us two big-time point guard on the floor,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “When you alternate those guys, you have stability at the point guard position.”
Rose scored 20 or more points for the 10th straight game, tying the career high he set in 2010-11, his MVP season in Chicago. He also eclipsed 11,000 career points and added 11 assists.
Christian Wood scored 23 points, and Svi Mykhailiuk added 13, the 11th time in 12 games that he has scored in double figures.
De’Aaron Fox had 22 points, and Bogdan Bogdanovic added 19 points for the Kings, who shot 12 of 23 from the line (52.2%).
DETROIT (AP) — An officer found one man shot to death inside a car and another on the ground nearby in Detroit early Monday, police said.
According to police, an officer found the bodies after responding to a call that a car had hit a fence shortly after 2 a.m. on the city’s east side.
Police said it was not immediately clear if the two had been shooting at each other or were shot by someone else. Their names have not been released.
By RICH DUBROFF
WASHINGTON — In a rebuilding season for the Washington Wizards, coach Scott Brooks still closely monitors the standings, and while it’s unlikely, he still believes his team has a chance to qualify for the playoffs.
The Wizards began the second half of the season by beating one of the teams ahead of them in the Eastern Conference. Bradley Beal scored 29 points, Ian Mahinmi added 21 and Washington broke a three-game losing streak with a 106-100 win over the Detroit Pistons on Monday.
Beal passed Wes Unseld for fourth place on the team’s career scoring list.
Washington is 14-26, but the Brooklyn Nets, who hold the eighth spot in the East, are only 18-24 after their loss to Philadelphia on Monday.
Chicago, Detroit and Charlotte are also ahead of Washington.
“I watch the games. I watch the standings,” Brooks said.
“We’re not talking about it. We’re just going to try to get better every game.”
Derrick Rose led Detroit with 21 points while Andre Drummond had 18 points and 16 rebounds.
The Pistons were trying to win three games in a row for the first time this season.
“We lost this game defensively, bro,” Rose said. “Second half, we just let them get anywhere on the court that they wanted.”
Drummond had a season-high nine turnovers.
“We can’t have our center having nine turnovers,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “We want him to get the ball in to Rose. He’s got to make decisions, and he’s done a good job of that, but tonight he did not.
“And normally he and our bigs do a good job of catching it, kicking it out and making a play and not turning it over.”
There were 10 lead changes, four in succession early in the fourth quarter, and Davis Bertans’ 3-pointer with 9:02 to play gave the Wizards the lead for good.
Washington scored nine straight to take a 95-87 lead two minutes later.
By PAT GRAHAM
AP Sports Writer
DENVER — Nathan MacKinnon doesn’t have to dig too deep to find a reason why he scores so much.
“I shoot a lot of pucks,” the Colorado All-Star forward said.
Shoot, it’s really not that easy.
MacKinnon scored twice to reach the 30-goal mark for a third straight season and the Avalanche beat the reeling Detroit Red Wings 6-3 on Monday.
The speedy forward joined Hall of Famer Joe Sakic as the only Avalanche players to record three straight seasons with at least 30 goals since the team relocated to Denver in 1995.
Pavel Francouz stopped 22 shots for Colorado.
Tyler Bertuzzi, Dylan Larkin and Givani Smith scored for Detroit, which has dropped five in a row (0-4-1). Larkin also had two assists.
Jimmy Howard made 40 saves in falling to 2-18-2.
“We wouldn’t have been in the game if he hadn’t played as well as he played, so he was excellent,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “He’s been really good the last three games. He looks like he’s on top of his game.”